Instead, after blowing a 10-point lead in the final six minutes and losing 23-20 in overtime, the Lions will limp into Buffalo possibly without quarterback Matthew Stafford (reinjured right shoulder), kicker Jason Hanson (knee), starting cornerback Chris Houston (shoulder) and defensive end Cliff Avril (leg).
What had looked at long last like a light at the end of the tunnel went dark in a hurry.
"The NFL, it's all about the beginning, the middle and finishing," cornerback Alphonso Smith said. "We didn't do a good job at finishing the game today. It's unfortunate, really unfortunate for the guys who really work really hard in here, and the coaches who work all week to prepare us and our fans. Our fans, the stadium was electric today. (It's) just really unfortunate how we let them down (as well as) ourselves and our coaches."
At the two-minute warning, the Lions were up 20-17 and had a third-and-8 play from their own territory. The Jets were out of timeouts. Had the Lions run the ball in that situation, they easily could have taken the clock down inside a minute before having to punt the ball back.
Instead, backup quarterback Drew Stanton, in the game after Stafford fell hard on his shoulder on the previous series, inexplicably threw an incomplete pass, stopping the clock with 1:54 left.
The Jets took the punt and marched right down field, aided by a personal foul penalty against veteran outside linebacker Julian Peterson, kicked the game-tying field goal and then won it on the first series in overtime.
Making it even harder for the Lions to swallow is the fact that they missed an extra point earlier in the fourth quarter. Hanson injured his right knee on a late hit two plays before the Lions scored to take a 20-10 lead.
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the backup kicker, got plenty of leg on the kick but it hit the right upright.
"The end of the game, we failed to execute the way that we needed to and that's the head coach's fault," coach Jim Schwartz said. "That's my fault. I didn't do a good job enough with the players in those situations, not only on defense, but on offense and on special teams."
- LINEUP WATCH: There was no immediate word on the severity of QB Matthew Stafford's injury. Coach Jim Schwartz said he didn't know whether it was a new injury or an aggravation of the shoulder separation that cost him five games already this season.
"We took enough time with it that we thought that any re-injury would be a new injury," Schwartz said. "We'll see where he is with that."
Shaun Hill (broken left forearm) was the team's third quarterback on Sunday and most likely will be ready to play if Stafford can't play in Buffalo next week.
BY THE NUMBERS: Stafford has missed 12 of a possible 24 games since being the first overall choice in the 2009 draft.
- WR Calvin Johnson did not fare too well on Revis Island. Playing man-up on Jets CB Darrelle Revis, Johnson had one catch for 13 yards. He wasn't even thrown to in the second half.
- WR Nate Burleson more than picked up the slack with WR Calvin Johnson shut down by CB Darrelle Revis, catching seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
- RB Jahvid Best continues to scuffle. He had 48 yards in 16 carries (3.0-yard average) and appeared to injure his right hand or wrist late in the game.
- P Nick Harris handled the kickoff duties after PK Jason Hanson was injured. The Lions may have to bring in a kicker this week. Steven Hauschka had an impressive training camp with the Lions and would be a possibility to return if Hanson's right knee injury doesn't allow him to play at Buffalo this week.
- CB Alphonso Smith picked off his fifth pass in six games, becoming the first Lion to have five picks in a season since Dre' Bly in 2005.